When it comes to the cloud, Microsoft and Google aren’t willing to let Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominate the market. Both companies are pouring enormous resources into boosting their respective platforms, Azure and Google Cloud.

For Microsoft, those efforts are paying off, with Azure rapidly gaining market-share among businesses. But Google Cloud Platform controls only 9 percent of the cloud market, compared to Azure at 21 percent and AWS at 32 percent. That’s not the best position, especially when you consider the money on the table: The $150 billion web hosting industry is expected to grow 33 percent by 2025, ballooning its overall value to $200 billion. 

If you’re a technologist whose work touches the cloud in any way, should you devote the time and resources to learning Google Cloud Platform, considering its relatively small market-share? Keep in mind that Google Cloud Platform offers far more than web hosting: There are an exhaustive 4,500 products in the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, ranging from API management to artificial intelligence. 

Those services are attracting some business attention: In the fourth quarter of 2021, Google Cloud revenue increased 44 percent year-over-year. In light of that, how should you approach potentially mastering Google Cloud Platform? We spoke to a few experts to help figure that out.

Why Should Technologists Learn Google Cloud Platform?

Drew Firment, Senior Vice President of Cloud Transformation at A Cloud Guru, tells Dice: “While Google Cloud is third in cloud market share behind both Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure), revenue of its cloud division grew nearly 45 percent to almost $5 billion. Google is aggressively investing in new capabilities and rapidly expanding their customer base—making GCP a great choice for technologists who are looking to advance their careers.”

In other words, there’s a chance that many businesses will embrace Google’s cloud offerings, especially if it provides a cost-efficient alternative to Azure and AWS. If you want to present yourself to potential employers as someone who truly knows everything the cloud marketplace has to offer, you should familiarize yourself with at least the most basic Google Cloud Platform functions. 

There’s also a compensation element involved here: Stack Overflow’s latest Developer Survey queried specialists in the world’s largest cloud platforms about their median salaries and found that specialists in Google Cloud Platform pulled down a median salary of $55,600 per year, just behind Azure ($62,630) and AWS ($66,810). That’s pretty solid—and there might be less competition out there for jobs involving Google’s platform.

Should People Pay for Google Cloud Platform Training?

Firment adds that “free is expensive” when you consider the time some free courses require. “Consider a subscription to a skills development platform that is focused on your individual success,” he adds.

Carl Long, Director of Partnership Engagement at Nerdio, says: “Third-party supplemental courses are helpful but not required to become certified. Some third-party resources come at a cost, but they do tend to provide more depth into real-world examples, ideas and executions.”

Platforms like Udemy can help round out your educational path, but it’s important to note you do not have to pay for Google Cloud Training. Google offers seven different free paths (cloud engineer, data engineer, cloud developer, data analytics, cloud architect, DevOps engineer, and machine learning engineer) and a “Getting Started” guide for those who aren’t sure where to go.

Instruction in Google's platform is also available on Coursera and Pluralsight, both of which are paid platforms. Both sites host “official” Google Cloud Platform training and offer several certifications.

Steven Walker, CEO of Spylix, tells Dice: “To get expertise, technologists should pay for Google Cloud training. Google Cloud certifications assist you in advancing your professional skills and show your value to potential employers. Google's needs-based scholarship offering may make certifications less costly. While keeping financial investment to a minimum, you might discover a Google Cloud certification is more than worth the effort.”

Will Google Cloud Training Help You Land a Job Faster?

Ami Noble-Newton, Global Learning and Development Director at Revolent Group, says: “There can never be a guarantee of how fast you may land a job, no matter what training or experience you have, and this is because there could be so many other factors impacting the need for cloud professionals. Luckily, we’re in a period now where cloud professionals are in extremely high demand and look to be for the foreseeable future—and especially those with a cloud-based competency and skillset.” 

Skills and experience open up opportunities. If you can show a hiring manager or recruiter that you can combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience, you have an advantage when it comes to competing for cloud-related jobs. “Training and certifications almost always top the list, accompanied by evidence of experience,” Noble-Newton adds. “This means that if an employer is weighing up your resume against someone who hasn’t utilized a training course, you’ll almost always come up top.”

Firment adds: “The cloud skills gap is the biggest challenge that enterprises are facing today with their digital transformation programs. Google Cloud skills are in massive demand and acquiring the certifications and hands-on experience will certainly accelerate the hiring and promotion process.”

Is Google Cloud Training Good for Those Continuing Education?

“Every year, Google Cloud introduces thousands of new features and services,” Firment notes. “Once you’ve learned the basics of cloud computing and Google Cloud, continuous education becomes essential. Getting certified on Google Cloud and becoming an expert just means that now you know how much you don’t know.”

While Google has a great platform for learning, using those programs to supplement a more formal education may be best. “There’s no reason why you can’t also continue your studies at the same time,” Noble-Newton says. “This could be helpful for a multitude of reasons, such as for students who want to have a head start when they leave college or university. Any good training program will last several years, giving you a greater opportunity to spread the workload and operate on a time schedule that suits you best. Of course, it may require some sacrifices from your time, but in my opinion, it’s certainly a sacrifice worth making.”